Recently, I’ve often found myself using tea as an ingredient in home-cooking. The various flavour profiles of different teas lend themselves perfectly to complement certain foods. In the past, I’ve used freshly ground Lapsang Souchong to make a marinade for salmon, oolong infused oils for salad dressings, etc. The possibilities are endless.
Apple jelly with a twist
Today, I’ve finally gotten around using our apples to make a jelly. I virtually grew up on apple jelly and love it dearly. Unfortunately, it’s not a very common jelly in New Zealand and you don’t find it very often. On the other hand, it’s an easy thing to make and far superior to any commercial product. After considering different options for a pairing with tea, it became quite obvious that a greenish oolong would be a perfect match for this delicious jelly. I think any oolong from the greener end of the spectrum would be great, but I decided to use our Rose Oolong to add another dimension.
Ya-Ya’s recipe for Organic Apple Jelly with Rose Oolong
Makes about 1 l of liquid (~3-4 glasses, depending on size)
1.5 kg organic apples (ideally not quite ripe yet)
(alternatively, 0.5 l organic apple juice)
1/2 cup water
2 organic lemons
5-6 tsp. rose oolong
0.5 l water
1 tsp agar-agar
600 g organic unrefined sugar
Wash the apples, remove stems and cut into pieces. Don’t remove skin and seeds.
Peel the lemons and remove their white skin. Separate the flesh and add lemons, apples and water to a large saucepan. At medium heat, cook the mixture until the apples are very soft (about 30-40 minutes). Then strain the apple pulp through a kitchen towel or cheese cloth into a bowl. Wait until the mixture has cooled down and gently squeeze out the remaining juice (avoid the last step if you prefer a very clear jelly). You should end up with about 500 to 600 ml apple juice.
Next, brew a really strong rose oolong, using 5-6 tsp. of rose oolong for 0.5 l water (at 85°C) and steep for 4 minutes. That should result in a pretty intensive infusion. After steeping, strain the tea but keep the rose buds, we’ll need them later.
Dissolve the agar-agar powder in a little cold water. Agar-agar is a white powder that’s derived from algae and is used here as a thickening agent. It is available at many Asian and health food stores. Alternatively, you could use pectin.
Add fruit juice, tea, agar-agar and sugar into large saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil at a rolling boil for 5-8 minutes* and then pour into prepared glasses. Fill glasses to the brim and add one rose from the infused tea in each glass (I told you we’d need them later). Then close the jars tightly with a lid. Turn them upside down for at least 20 minutes to create the vacuum seal. You can now store them away safely in a cool, dark space but make sure to keep one around to eat soon.
* If you’re using agar-agar (as I have), then your normal jelly-test on a cold plate doesn’t work. Jellies made with agar-agar take a little while to settle, so it will seem as if the jelly isn’t setting yet. BUT IT WILL SETTLE IN THE GLASSES. If you’re using pectin, then you can of course use the jelly-test as usual.
Are you cooking with tea?
If you have interesting recipes involving tea, we would love to hear from you. Just send us an email or leave a comment.
On another tangent, but still related to food
I’ve come across this wonderful recipe for Matcha Spelt Rolls with Bittersweet Chocolate last week. Of course, I’ve given it a try and must say they are delicious. Those of you who came into the teahouse today had the chance to try them. I’ll make them again upon request …